Expansion of slaughterhouse in West Flanders approved, animal rights group appeals

The province of West Flanders has approved an environmental permit for the expansion of a slaughterhouse in Tielt, but not everyone is onboard with the idea.

Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA), Belgium’s organisation for animal rights, plans to appeal the decision to expand the slaughterhouse’s capacity from 1.5 million pigs per year to 2.3 million pigs per year.

“We do not only want to prevent the expansion of the slaughterhouse, we also demand its complete closure,” the organisation said in a statement.

The slaughterhouse’s expansion is subject to a number of conditions, according to the delegation that approved it, but none of them involve taking into account animal welfare aspects.

A total of 90 appeals have already been lodged against the expansion, most of which had to do with fears that the expansion would cause extra nuisance in the wider area.

“Animal welfare aspects were also raised in the objections, but this is not an assessment criterion for an environmental permit. Other authorities are taking this to heart through their own channels,” the approval delegation said.

Some of the criteria they did consider when granting the conditional approval for expansion were odour, noise and water management, for which the delegation says acceptable measures have been taken.

One of the requests that was granted is for pigs to be brought in 15 times a year on Saturdays at 4:00 AM instead of 7:00 AM, according to the Flemish infocentre for agriculture and horticulture (VILT).

In addition to increasing capacity, the slaughterhouse will also construct new buildings on site, and add a 2,780 square metre fridge along with buildings for storage and water purification.

Disappointment with the approval of the expansion isn’t only felt from animal lovers.

“I can’t say much about it at the moment, because together with the committee we first want to discuss the province’s decision thoroughly before communicating further, but this is still a very regrettable situation,” Ludwig Van Daele of the Hoogserlei neighbourhood committee told Het Laatste Nieuws.

“A slaughterhouse has an enormous impact on the environment and on human welfare. That seems to have been lost sight of here.”

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